Chilton and Mongia revive Lancashire

Lancashire 375 & 354-2dec Gloucestershire 234 & 48-1
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The Independent Online

Given Lancashire's vital need to win here before Warwickshire's visit to Old Trafford next week, the stand-in captain, Carl Hooper, needed to time his declaration perfectly after watching his top-order batsmen savage Gloucestershire's bowlers under the first blue skies of the Festival.

Given Lancashire's vital need to win here before Warwickshire's visit to Old Trafford next week, the stand-in captain, Carl Hooper, needed to time his declaration perfectly after watching his top-order batsmen savage Gloucestershire's bowlers under the first blue skies of the Festival.

Gloucestershire had notched a minor triumph by avoiding the follow-on yesterday morning, but such was the pace at which Lancashire added to a first-innings lead of 141 the balance of the contest barely altered.

Lancashire have reasserted at last here the qualities that led them to be such a popular tip for the title. However, with Warwickshire threatening to build a daunting lead, they must leave the College Ground with a victory, in which respect it could be argued that batting on for 10 overs after tea was perhaps being excessively cautious, particularly after Gloucestershire survived 20 overs last evening for the loss only of Craig Spearman, caught at gully off James Anderson. Early success today looks essential if the chance of a first Championship success since early May is not to be wasted.

In terms of runs, Lancashire's post-tea extension was not wasted. Mark Chilton and Dinesh Mongia added 95 to the total, extending their unbroken partnership to 124. But it remains to be seen how keen Gloucestershire are to chase the 448 they still need today to win, even on a batsman's pitch.

As Lancashire's position was strengthened quickly in the morning session, Dominic Cork, the former England all-rounder, continued to bowl aggressively. Pitching mostly short but varying his length to good effect, he ripped into the Gloucestershire tail, claiming three of the last four wickets in a capitulation completed inside an hour. He could not get rid of Jon Lewis, who crucially saved the follow-on with two fours and a six in Cork's last over, but when Glen Chapple took over at the Chapel End the No 11 survived only one more delivery.

Chilton and Iain Sutcliffe then put on 115 before Lancashire lost a second-innings wicket and Mal Loye raised the tempo further, striking four sixes and six fours in a 54-ball 69 as the total was doubled in 15 overs.

Chilton completed his second Championship hundred of the season but it was Mongia, confidence high after his first-innings century, who picked up the baton, racing to 76 from a mere 52 balls before Hooper called them in.

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